Musical Tribute to Mom


Grab your tissues: we think you’ll need them as you watch this incredible moment between a mother and son, as he sings her a sweet song.

If you missed it, her final words to him are:

“You have a nice face and a pretty smile and you’re a nice person!”

Now, here’s the story behind the song, performed and posted by 33-year-old Joe Fraley. His mother, 70-year-old Judy Fraley, is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and her family recently moved her to a special facility that can help with her care. As so many families experience, this has been a heart-breaking, emotional and exhausting journey for the Fraley family, which posted her story on a GoFundMe page.

On it, the Fraleys share this:

Like many families that have experienced this illness, it was met by ours with confusion, embarrassment, and reluctance to accept its grip on my mom and to receive a diagnosis for many years. If you know anything about Alzheimer’s, you may know that it is progressive, and there is no cure, so there is not much we could have done to slow its progress or change her current condition. However, we are remiss that we could have been more prepared for this moment, because things are really bad for our mom and dad right now.

Within the last month, our mom has been experiencing hallucinations, cannot recognize us, will not eat, sleeps most of the time, and is combative. She cannot be left alone for even a minute and needs around the clock care. Her dementia and confusion is so strong at times, we are concerned for her safety, as she is acting out and confronting loved ones. You know what a loving, kind, and blissful soul our mom was, and so it is clear the disease has a strong hold of her.

Joe Fraley says he’s always performed his songs for his mother, and when she started to show symptoms of her disease, he noticed that the music seemed to ease her pain. So he brings his guitar on visits to her now, and even when she doesn’t recognize him, she lights up when he starts strumming.

Of course, music has been shown to help other Alzheimer’s and dementia patients — we interviewed Dan Cohen on the Growing Bolder Radio Show about his film, “Alive Inside,” which profiles seven elderly people suffering from dementia and shows the transformation that occurs when they’re given iPods loaded with their favorite songs from years ago.

And Molly Middleton Meyer used her own family’s experience with Alzheimer’s to develop Mind’s Eye Poetry, a facilitation program that helps patients use poetry and writing to express their emotions.

With an estimated 21 to 35 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease around the world, it’s inspiring to see these stories of families who are Surviving & Thriving.